Ron holds Portland roundtable on unmanned aircraft systems

With commercial applications from agriculture to mountaintop rescue, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have the ability to boost Oregon’s economy and create good-paying middle-class jobs. Because of this potential, Ron and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer invited FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker to discuss the benefits of UAS in our state.

Oregon is once again proving to be a leader in innovation and technology.  Our state has three FAA-approved test ranges in Pendleton, Tillamook and Warm Springs, numerous innovative UAS companies in operation statewide, and the FAA recently chose Oregon State University (OSU) chosen as a Center of Excellence for UAS.

“This is an Oregon industry that is poised to soar," Wyden said at the Aug. 14 roundtable in Portland. "And it's our job to help make sure that there is a good safe flight path in place."

Also attending the roundtable were local and state officials, Warm Springs Tribal leaders and Oregon agricultural leaders, as well as representatives from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the three test range sites in the state, OSU, University of Oregon, Portland State University and Business Oregon.

Ron said afterward that the roundtable generated a productive discussion of issues such as getting the federal role right on safety and privacy, including limiting the government’s use of UAS where it would intrude on individual rights. The roundtable participants also discussed ways to ensure that UAS play a role in commercial applications from agriculture and mountaintop rescue and wildfires – while heeding firefighters’ concerns about private UAS that in some instances have hampered efforts to fight wildfires.